An online Q&A forum (Quora) recently asked people outside the U.S. what things they’d heard about our country that they didn’t believe could possibly be true until they actually came and visited.
I’m just going to go ahead and quote straight from the website rather than try to paraphrase and lose some of the impact…some of the things they said were:
“Poor, hungry kids. Really hard to believe this one. I read somewhere recently that 1 in 5 kids in the US is at the risk of hunger. That’s a lot for a country that boasts to be in the first world…
The astonishing number of homeless people on the streets in San Francisco. It is presumably one of the wealthiest cities in the wealthiest state of the wealthiest country in the world. I expected to see wealth. I didn’t expect to see poverty like this. It seems a little worse each time I visit. I have visited lots of countries, and lots of cities, but I was shocked by the severity of the situation.”
If you have a minute, look at the other responses on the site; some of the other things are actually pretty funny (like, our penchant for wearing way fewer clothes than necessary in freezing weather conditions). I’m posting this for a couple reasons. One is because I just realized yesterday, as I was walking around my city, that there’s such a disparity here (as in a lot of cities, I’m sure) between the wealthy or even middle-class citizens and those who live below the poverty line. There are at least a couple places where an incredibly nice house sits adjacent to one that’s broken down or condemned.
Another reason I’m posting this is because I think it’s important for us to realize that these things shouldn’t be the norm. We should be appalled by the number of hungry kids and the amount of people there are without permanent living situations, rather than thinking that that’s just how it’s going to be.
Just two days ago, an amazing group of Jesus-followers here in Yakima handed out 5000 backpacks to families because they love our city and the people in it, and they wanted to meet a need that they saw. You can read the story here. They recognized that they needed to put their words into action, and they believed that it was up to them to rise up and make a difference.
Maybe right now you don’t have resources available to gather a huge group of people to hand out school supplies, but what are some small steps you can take to begin to make changes in your community? It could be donating time to a local shelter or food bank, going through your closet and giving away some of the things you don’t wear or use anymore, or even just beginning to educate yourself more about the things already happening around you that you can partner with.
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” (Mother Theresa)